The affable Jason Segel, who graced us with his penis in his Forgetting Sarah Marshall, plays a shiftless 30-year-old man-child who—
Wait, I gotta stop this review for a moment. Does it seem to anyone else like all the movies these days center around shiftless young men? Or at least, all the movies centered around young men are either feature them as fantasy heroes—or shiftless layabouts?
Don’t men go out in the world to seek their fortune, overcome obstacles and find love any more? I mean, I know there’s a trend, of sorts, of young people living at home but The Boy is talking about moving out when he turns 18 next year! (I hope he hangs out a bit but far be it from me to stand in his way.)
In Jeff, Who Lives At Home, Segel (as the eponymous Jeff) is a 30-year-old man-child who’s puffing it up in the basement when he gets a call from an angry guy looking for Kevin. Jeff is a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, and also a heavy pot-smoker, so he’s sure this means something.
He then gets a call from his irritated mother (Susan Sarandon). It’s her birthday and she wants him to get some wood glue, so that he can fix the slat on a closet door. That’s all she wants out of him, but it’s clear she doesn’t think he’s up to even that minor task.
Reluctantly, Jeff meanders onto the bus, but he’s immediately side-tracked by a kid wearing a basketball jersey with the name “Kevin” on the back.
And so goes the story.
Jeff’s journey takes him all over the place, as he crosses paths with his (relatively) high-powered paint-store employee older brother (Ed Helms, playing a high-strung asshole, rather than a high-strung nebbish, as in Hangover and Cedar Rapids) and his brother’s wife (Judy Greer, The Descendants), as well as his mother and her friend (Rae Dawn Chong).
Somehow, in defiance of stereotypes and melanin, in this movie the 51-year-old Rae Dawn Chong looks older than 65-year-old Susan Sarandon. Not sure how that happened, since Susan Sarandon always looked a little older than her age.
Anyway, the whole Chong/Sarandon part of the story-arc is ridiculously obvious from the get-go.
There are actually quite a few really obvious parts to this movie, which didn’t really bug me.
I actually didn’t see much in the way of trailers for this film so I don’t know how they’re pitching it. It’s not really whimsical; it’s really a bit too heavy for that. It’s funny, but The Boy complained it wasn’t funny enough, and I noted that it’s not really a comedy.
It’s really a “light” dysfunctional family film. Trying to think of a film this was most like, atmosphere-wise, Cyrus came to mind. Which, upon reflection, makes sense, given that the Duplass brothers wrote and directed both movies (and Baghead, which also had a similar feel).
So, these guys have a style. You probably know whether you like it. The Boy and The Flower both liked it, though The Boy wanted more humor, as noted. However, you might not like Jeff. Or his brother. Or his mother. (They are listless. Low-key. Irritable. Aimless.)
In which case, you probably won’t like this film.
I did, though, because I felt like they were trying, and the movie gives you a reason to hope.